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Sociolinguistics in Japanese Contexts

By Tetsuya Kunihiro; Fumio Inoue et al. | Go to book overview

4. Individual differences among investigators of linguistic
geography

0. Introductory notes by the editors

This work is concerned with linguistic geographical surveys, another area of research in which Dr. Sibata has been influential. Although the paper was written as a contribution to the methodology of linguistic geography, it provides many sociolinguistic insights. Among other things, the typical attitudes of ordinary speakers toward foreigners are clearly shown.

One of the field investigators in the Itoigawa research project was a European, and we see in this paper how his appearance and language traits seem to have had some degree of influence on the answers obtained during the survey. The interviewer was a Belgian-born linguist, Father Willem Grootaers, who has been at the vanguard of linguistic geography methodology and research in Japan. He is the son of L. Grootaers, a pioneer in his own right in linguistic geography in Europe. Father Grootaers and Dr. Sibata have been good friends and co-workers since they first met in the 1950s, and Father Grootaers was pleased to find that an analysis of the differences resulting from his individual characteristics contributed to the scope of methodology in linguistic geography.

The fact that Father Grootaers obtained more Common Language forms than the other field workers had been noted earlier in the interpretations of individual maps. In this paper, Dr. Sibata attempted a complete analysis of the individual differences among investigators, and again his meticulous methodology is visible.

The originality of this paper lies in its attempt at a positive utilization of individual differences for the interpretation of linguistic maps, i.e. for the reconstruction of the linguistic history of an area.

The first installment of the Linguistic Atlas of Itoigawa was a four volume set comprising one volume each of maps, materials, map analyses in Japanese, and map analyses in English, published in 1988 (Sibata 1988–7g). The second installment was published in 1990 (Sibata 1990–3a). The third installment published in 1995 completed this long-awaited work (Sibata 19957b).

The content of this chapter will be easier to grasp if readers know beforehand the following. The examples given in 3 “simple individual differences” are mainly phonetic, and cannot be utilized as a key to historical reconstruction; the examples in 4 “individual differences reflecting language history” are mainly lexical or stylistic.

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